Tips On Booking an Affordable Caribbean Vacation

Traveling isn’t cheap and traveling to a beautiful island for a week in the sun and sand can be downright budget breaking. Comments we see frequently on our Facebook page in response to gorgeous island location pictures include “maybe in our next life” or “if only I could afford it”.

We get it. We’ve been fortunate to have traveled to many tropical destinations over the years, but for many years we had to get very creative in putting together a package that we could afford. Here are a few of the tricks and tips we’ve learned that may just help you plan for an economical and well deserved beach vacation.

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1. Be flexible. If you’re determined to visit the one destination that you’ve always wanted to see at the time of year you want to see it, you may end up paying more. Make a list of several islands that you’d enjoy and explore the airfare and accommodations at each one.

2. Consider traveling during low season or the shoulder season. The Caribbean low season is generally considered to be June to mid-December. Unfortunately much of that time is also hurricane season. We generally avoid travel to the Caribbean during the peak hurricane months of mid-August to mid-October, but have enjoyed many wonderful vacations with great weather and cheaper prices in May, June, July, November and December. If you’re worried about the potential for bad weather, check into travel insurance to see if it can protect you from weather related delays and problems.

3. Look into different packages that combine airfare with accommodations and sometimes even transfers or car rental. We’ve booked packages through American Airlines Vacations and Apple Vacations and have also booked packages through some resorts and cruises that can quote airfare along with their accommodations. Costco and Sam’s Club also offer travel deals! The selection of resorts and destinations vary and can be limited in these type of packages, but it’s definitely worth researching.

4. Frequent Flyer miles. We used to get a lot of “mileage” out of these and although they are still available and widely used, we’ve found that they’ve become much trickier to use. That being said, there are still deals to be had for travel savvy individuals. Some companies offer lots of “free miles” for opening up a new credit card (we recently got 35,000 miles for opening up a new US Airways card – also good on American Airlines), and if you can be flexible in your travel dates or can plan way ahead, you may be able to score free or discounted flights.

5. Consider renting a villa, house, apartment or condo. This option can be extremely attractive if you are traveling with children or with a large group. We rented a villa on the beach with a pool in North Caicos with a total of 6 adults. We were able to cook many of our meals in the villa (which had a beautiful well appointed kitchen with granite countertops and plenty of dining space) and enjoyed lounging in the pool and walking the beach just steps from our villa. We split the cost of the villa per person and it was one of the most affordable accommodations we’ve come across. There are several good companies to check with, including VRBO and HomeAway and know that at least one offers insurance in case there are any problems with the rental. Be sure to check the cleaning rates and the deposit amount on your desired rental.

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7. Consult a Travel Agent. Travel agents can know of special deals on airfare and resorts that we may not find on the internet, so it’s worth checking in with one to find out.

8. Call a resort directly. Resorts occasionally have specials, discounts or packages that aren’t widely publicized. If you have a particular resort in mind, call them directly to see if they have an upcoming deal – or if perhaps you could receive a free room upgrade!

9. Consider traveling on atypical days. If you have a little flexibility in your schedule, check the pricing on airfare and accommodations mid-week to mid-week instead of Saturday to Saturday.

10. Shorten your stay by one day. If you find a place you REALLY want to stay and it’s just a little over budget, check the pricing for 6 days instead of 7. This may put you right in the budget you’re looking for.

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11. Search RedWeek for timeshare rentals in your desired destination. Timeshare rentals are timeshares that owners rent to other individuals when they can’t use them themselves. RedWeek.com is the largest online marketplace for timeshares. Owners post their timeshare units on the RedWeek site, and connect directly with travelers looking to rent – usually for a pretty good price!

Hopefully these tips will help you find a good deal on a Caribbean trip of your dreams to get your toes in the sand sooner rather than later.

Do you know of other deal-finding tips to share? If so, tell us about them!

Find more Tropical Tips here:
Tropical Tips & More

To see more island posts, check out our Island Blog Directory

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The Fight Against The Bite

 Unfortunately insects like the tropics too. Mosquitos, No-See-Ums (sand fleas), ticks and more would love to make you their next tropical treat. And equally unfortunate is the fact that some folks just seem to be insect – especially mosquito – magnets. Studies show that approximately 20% of people are considered “high attractor types”. If the prospect of spending your well deserved time in paradise swatting and itching and returning with what appears to be a horrible case of the chicken pox actually makes you think twice about spending time on a beautiful beach dressed in anything other than a full body suit, here are a few tips on how to avoid becoming insect bait.

Anguilla2 - copyrightFirst of all, whether you are a “high attractor type” or not, everyone should take steps to protect themselves from insect and bug bites as they can, at the very least, cause discomfort and allergic reactions and far worse – insects are carriers of some very nasty diseases such as the West Nile Virus, malaria and dengue fever. Even if you are not prone to getting munched on, you should follow these important tips:

1. Either avoid being outside during peak mosquito and other insect hours – dusk to dawn, or take extra precautions such as covering up with more clothing and being vigilant in using a repellent.

2. Wear lighter clothing as mosquitos are apparently attracted to darker colors.

3. If your accommodations do not have screened windows, use a mosquito net while sleeping.

4. Avoid wearing perfumes or any products containing a fragrance.

What about bug repellent?
Experts believe at this time that the most effective ingredient in bug repellent is DEET and of course, the products with the highest concentration of DEET provide the most protection. But, some people are very sensitive or allergic to DEET and others are concerned about its potential toxicity.

Are there any alternatives to DEET? According to the CDC, other ingredients with good repellent value are: picaridin (KBR 3023), Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus/PMD, or IR3535. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions closely on all products to maximize efficiency and minimize side effects.

Are there more natural alternatives?
There are quite a few natural alternatives that are beginning to show promise in the fight against the bite. These include:

Essential Oils, such as citronella and eucalyptus

Neem (Azadirachta indica) mixed with coconut oil

Soybean oil-based repellents such as Bite Blocker

Mosquito Milk containing Lemon Grass

Here is a recipe for a Make It Yourself Natural Bug Repellent found on NYR Natural News:
Fill a small (4 oz.)spray bottle with:
1.5 oz. water
1.5 oz. vodka
15 drops citronella essential oil
15 drops eucalyptus oil
5 drops lemon grass
5 drops lavender
Shake the bottle before each use and spray on skin and clothing as necessary (requires more frequent application, at least every 2 hours)

And lastly these foods and supplements have shown some promise as well:

Garlic – some studies have shown that ingesting more garlic may increase your repellent ability, and that rubbing it on your skin may be even more effective, although it may repel more than mosquitos!

Vitamin B-1 – increasing the amount of vitamin B-1 in your diet for several weeks prior to your vacation is sworn to work by some.

As with all medications and supplements, be sure to check with your physician before trying anything new. And, most importantly, be prepared and find out what works for you before your next tropical escape to prevent disease, discomfort, allergic reactions and returning from vacation with a terrific tan, but legs that look like a connect the dots game!

Mosquito BitesHave you found some other effective way to prevent mosquitos, no-see-ums and other insects from making a meal out of you? If so, we’d love to hear them!

copyright©Rum Therapy
Pictures and other content may not be re-used without written consent from Rum Therapy, LLC